Matt Bonner Admits the Spurs have Exceeded Expectations, Picks Miami as the Favorite in the East

April 25, 2012 – 6:15 am by Brad Gagnon

They might not get the attention the Lakers, Heat and Bills receive, but no team in the NBA has a better record than the San Antonio Spurs, who have quietly wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. But that was also the case last year, and San Antonio ended up falling in the first round of the playoffs.

This year, the Spurs are a little healthier and wiser, and veterans line Matt Bonner will try to ensure that their playoff run actually gets through the starting gates.

Matt Bonner joined Sid Seixeiro on The Fan 590 in Toronto to discuss the Spurs’ superb, abbreviated regular season, while looking ahead to the playoffs. He also weighed in on Metta World Peace’s controversial elbow from the weekend and submitted his pick for the favorite out of the Eastern Conference.

On his expectations going into the shortened season:

“You know what? It was a lot of uncertainty. I wasn’t really sure how we would fare if it was one week of training camp, one or two preseason games and then right into the season. We got off to a little bit of a slow start — we were 12-9 at one point — but since then we left for our rodeo month-long road trip and we’ve been rolling ever since. And a big part of that is obviously the young guys that have stepped in — guys like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, and Tiago Splitter, in his second year, has really come into his own. And we made some good pickups with Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills, which has given us a lot of depth with this condensed schedule, let us manage minutes, and everybody’s contributing.”

On if he’ll rest more during the final two games now that the Spurs have wrapped up the No. 1 seed:

“I don’t want limited minutes. We’ve been going with this crazy schedule. It doesn’t get any easier ending the season — we just finished a back-to-back, day off today, and then back-to-back on the road, day off, first round playoffs. So, for some reason, that rhythm has been doing well for us. I wouldn’t want to do anything to mess that up.”

On the Spurs exceeding expectations:

“I think we’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations. Not that we don’t expect to go out and win every game, but it has been a great regular season. Luckily, we know all too well from last year that doesn’t translate into automatically advancing in the playoffs, so we understand that and if anything, going out in the first round last year is motivating us to be extra focused coming into this year. And we’re ready to go — we’re in rhythm, we’re healthy, we’re deep and we just wanna keep that going these last two games going into the first round.”

On the media reaction to Metta World Peace’s flagrant elbow against Oklahoma City:

“Yeah, I mean, obviously that’s the media’s job to sensationalize dramatic events, and they’ve certainly done it with this. And like you said…it hashes up everything else he’s done in the past. It was an unfortunate situation. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, but he made a mistake, for whatever reason, and he’s gonna have to pay the consequences.”

On the team to beat in the Eastern Conference:

“I think it’s Miami. You look at those guys and they’ve done a good job I think managing minutes and resting guys, too, so (if) they stay healthy heading into the playoffs, I’d look at them as the team to beat coming out of the East. But obviously, you know, Chicago’s an excellent team — they beat us pretty good at home. And Boston, to me, their big three, even though they’re a little older, in a seven-game series their experience and their ability to execute game plans makes them a formidable opponent as well. So I’ll be curious to see who comes out of there but I think, for me, Miami’s the favorite.”

Listen to Matt Bonner on The Fan 590 here

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